In a symbolic response to violence between Israel and militants in Gaza last week, Egypt’s lower house of Parliament approved of a text calling for a re-think in Israeli-Egyptian relations, recommending the cessation of gas exports and expelling Israel’s ambassador. Simultaneously, Egypt’s ruling military council assisted the two warring parties in forming a truce as it has done before. It was a conflicting message, one that stems from a topic that has troubled Egyptian society for decades.
A historic peace and a hefty price
The 1978 Camp David Accords were seen as a historic achievement in the Middle East. After four major wars between Israel and the Arab states, Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state. Egypt was considered the leader of the Arab front and its actions were seen as a betrayal of the Arab and Palestinian cause. Egypt was thrown out of the Arab League and isolated by their former allies. On the plus side, Egypt no longer faced a military threat from Israel, gained a new ally in the United States and regained the Sinai Peninsula (lost to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War). Sadat and Israeli PM Menachem Begin even shared the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize.